A career with the U.S. Armed Services as a health physicist may take one of two paths. First is a career as a commissioned officer in the military. The second path is as a civilian employee in the Department of Defense. As a military health physicist, your duties will be similar to those of other health physicists—you could work in a health care setting, in an industrial setting, often as a radiation safety officer, or even developing policy and regulations. There are some opportunities unique to the military, such as duty at sea on a nuclear-powered surface ship or in a nuclear submarine.
Requirements for the Following Positions in a Military Setting1:
Minimally a BS degree in health physics, physics, environmental science, or a related science for entry as an O-1. An MS or PhD and experience may result in entry at a higher rank and pay grade. Officers will also need to meet their service's requirements as an officer, including passing a comprehensive physical exam and periodic demonstration of physical fitness. The ability to obtain and retain a security clearance is also needed.
Minimally a BS in health physics, physics, environmental science, or a related science. Advanced degrees or American Board of Health Physics certification will provide a preference. The ability to obtain and retain a security clearance is also needed.
Average Annual Salary:
Military Officer: $80,000, varies slightly according to duty station; a significant portion is tax free.
Civilian Employee: $85,000
Military Officer: $45,000–$55,000, varies slightly according to duty station; a significant portion is tax free.
Civilian Employee: $41,500–$60,000
See Military Pay Chart and Salary Table 2012-GS for details.
- U.S. Air Force
- U.S. Army
- U.S. Navy
- U.S. Marine Corps
- Department of Defense
Additional information is available at:
Ask Gregory Smith, manager of radioactive waste disposal at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, about military careers. Greg is a former Air Force health physicist.
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